Type: Whole Grain Flours

Description: Flours can be made from milling most whole grains. Wheat is the most commonly used, although an abundance of exciting grains and wheat alternatives are available in the organic marketplace. Options include spelt, kamut, rice, oats, rye, amaranth, millet, barley, quinoa, teff, and buckwheat grains. All of these wheat alternatives can be ground into flour, and many can be rolled into flakes such as the commonly-known oat, which is what oatmeal actually is. Many can be soaked and sprouted, and used in raw food preparation. Nuts can also be ground into flour, the most common being almonds.

What to look for: Farmer-owned companies pursuing sustainable growth and ethical partnerships with organic farmers. Notice if the grains you are buying have tracking systems, which show processing dates and grower numbers. If the quality of your purchase is in question, it can then be tracked. Purchase grains that are labeled stone ground. This means they are ground at a lower speed in a stone mill, thereby preserving more nutrients.

Uses: Flour is the basis for almost every baked product. Choose to eat a variety of high fiber, whole grain foods, as it is important for proper bowel function. High fiber foods can reduce symptoms of constipation and may lower the risk for heart disease and bowel cancers. In addition to adding rich flavor to meals, whole grains contain much needed vitamins and minerals.

Where to find: Health Food Store, online resources. Organic and Natural Food Stores, Food Co-ops. Look for flours that are kept in a refrigerated case.

Avoid: Not all flours are created equal. Avoid inorganic flours or grains that are treated with herbicides, insecticides or preservatives. Buy small quantities of unique, stand-in flour alternatives, or freshly grind your own from the whole grain, as needed. To keep natural oils fresh, store the grains in airtight containers in the refrigerator, or freeze, until needed. Freshness is insured by using flour within three months of purchase. Keep flours dry, as they absorb moisture easily.